As an entrepreneur there is a natural ebb and flow to running a small business. There is nothing more exhilarating than bringing your passion to life and turning an idea into something successful. But many small business owners are looking for a lifeline. They may be on the verge of closing their businesses and start running their businesses more effectively.
In a previous post, I talked about how many small biz owners in the military community need a reality check and I should know, because this Direction Diva had to do just that. I had to change the way I ran my blog and my overall business to save me from closing operations for good. And I know I’m not alone which is why today is the first post in a new series Save Your Small Business.
Like many military spouses I am running a business out of a desire to create an income stream in a way that works with my military lifestyle. I wanted to share my experience to help someone else, and before I knew it I was working 13 hour days, traveling all around the country and releasing my first book.
Funny thing was that I hadn’t made a dime, in fact profit was a foreign language for my latest entrepreneurial endeavor. Why was this time different?
Looking back there were lots of factors, but I think it was different because from the inception in 2011 I never looked at it like a business. I had a passion to make a difference with no concrete plan to profitability.
Eventually my message caught on and grew, but my business didn’t grow with it. I had set things up in such a way that there were no income streams and I was required to put money in just to keep things going. It was stressing me out and effecting my family. I had to find a better way before it was to late.
So I looked at how I spent my time and realized that I had been grasping at ideas that sounded good but not once did any of my efforts convert to cash flow. Not because they couldn’t but because I hadn’t set them up that way.
I also saw that I had developed the business in the nooks and crannies of my life rather than giving it priority and structure. I took a go with the flow attitude using my military life as an excuse for not being able to plan. This methodology worked right up until
- I understood that without regular revenue I couldn’t keep my business open.
- I got sick of feeling like I was starting over and building a new reputation with each PCS move.
- My stress level rose, my productivity waffled and my balance sheets looking like Swiss cheese.
- Chaos had become my way of life.
What my business looked like on the surface was a far cry from the truth going on behind the scenes and I began to resent the time it was taking from my family without any financial benefits.
So when I found myself debating whether the stress and lack of profits warranted hanging my “closed until further notice” sign permanently I new things had to change. I love what I do and knew that I had run many successful businesses prior to this one and decided to take a real honest look at this business.
What I saw was disturbing but hopeful, because I realized I could turn things around with a few simple changes. So in true milblogger style I decided to share these realizations and changes with you in a SAVE YOUR SMALL BUSINESS series.. you can see how I am turning things around in my business and with my blog and hopefully it will help you to:
Truth #1 : A successful business must have clearly defined, marketable products that are delivered effectively.
It took me a while to admit it, but the way I had built my milspouse business had more to do with my one on one people skills and a desire to help than having an actual “product” that people wanted to purchase. [Tweet ” A Successful business must have clearly defined marketable products. #smallbiz #advice”]
In order for a business to flourish you have to make your products and services easy to understand and easy to purchase. And up until recently I hadn’t done that.
For the first 2 years of running the Direction Diva Brand, the only product I had available for purchase was my speaking. What’s more is that I didn’t do a great job of communicating what topics and messages were unique and distinguishing. Add to that I was a newbie military spouse without a reputation.
My blog was more of a diary that I did when I had time rather than a viable income stream. My book sounded awesome but didn’t translate. I didn’t define the problem and communicate a solution nor did I have a real marketing plan.
Bottom line I didn’t have products that were clearly defined and available for purchase and therefore I made no money. Simple as that.
No matter what your product, whether it’s a blog, a book, a talk or a service it must be clearly defined and presented in a way that your clients can relate to. Without that you are dead in the water.
Click here for part 2 PLANNING
in the Save Your Small Business Series!
In the meantime take a moment and evaluate your products and income streams asking if they can be easily purchased by your niche market!
~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com